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What is the Difference Between Recruitment and Talent Acquisition?

Published 28th Apr 2023

One of the most common questions we get asked is what is the difference between recruitment and talent acquisition. Many people think the two terms are synonymous but, in fact, understanding the difference between the two can be key in helping your business to grow. Here we look at what they mean and how you can use this knowledge to determine what you need from your own hiring strategy. 

Developing a recruitment strategy

Whilst many employers choose to utilise their own recruitment department, far more rely on the experience and knowledge that a recruitment consultant can provide. Often, they’re the ones who use their contacts and expertise to develop a recruitment strategy for an employer when they can’t do it themselves in-house or simply need more support.

The most effective recruitment consultants will take a combined approach, tapping into both recruitment and talent acquisition strategies for their clients, depending on their needs. Let’s take a look at both to understand more.


The CIPD defines recruitment as ‘attracting and selecting individuals into a job role’. It sounds simple, but anyone who’s involved with the process will understand that it’s far from that. However, recruitment is just one fundamental part of an organisation’s strategy.  

Recruitment can be likened in some instances to a short-term solution for problems which require an immediate fix. This might be a seasonal issue; recruiting people in anticipation of a Christmas rush, or as a consequence of a member of staff leaving. In these cases, recruitment can be thought of as a more reactive approach.

Talent Acquisition

On the other hand, talent acquisition can be likened to a longer-term process that requires further planning and strategic vision. It’s a proactive and on-going position for an employer to take – and it means they’re planning ahead for a future that they have envisioned for their organisation.

The use of a talent acquisition process can tell a potential employee lots about the company they’re considering working for. They can learn about its vision, its long-term growth strategy and its stance on leadership and innovation.  

Implementing the differences

In February 2023 the British Chambers of Commerce released its Quarterly Recruitment Outlook – according to a survey it conducted over eight in ten firms in the UK (82%) were experiencing difficulties in recruiting staff. Some of the most badly-affected sectors were hospitality, manufacturing, construction, professional services, and education.

If you’re recruiting in one of these areas now may be the time to reconsider your strategy and think about talent acquisition instead. 

Taking a more long term view, talent acquisition can help your organisation with:

  • Making the hiring process more productive and efficient
  • Attracting the right talent
  • Growing your business
  • Sourcing niche skills and experience
  • Helping you prepare for the unexpected

An effective talent acquisition strategy will cast its net wide for suitable candidates, whether they’re internal or external. It will also build a continuous talent pipeline by engaging and networking to source suitable diverse talent. It uses built-in flexibility so it can adapt to changing needs in the short- and long-term, scaling as required.

Partnering with a Talent Acquisition specialist

If you’re looking to grow your business, or if you need specialist help with difficult-to-fill roles, you need to consider partnering with a talent acquisition specialist. 

Developing a true and on-going talent acquisition partnership will operate on a number of levels, from developing sourcing strategies to candidate assessment, and establishing your brand and business culture. And what’s more, because it’s cohesive and proactive, you’ll actually save money in the long run. 

If you’d like more information about how we can help with both your recruitment and your talent acquisition strategies, get in touch with the specialist recruitment consultants at McCarthy Recruitment on 0161 828 8726 or contact us here.

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